Monthly Archives:October 2016

Federal government misses deadline to clear Phoenix pay debacle

31 Oct 16
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The government has overlooked its selfimposed contract for removing a backlog of paycheck dilemmas and it is currently seeking to get points fixed out from the end-of the season.

That’s along from 82,000 noted through the summertime.

Lemay says she’s unhappy the backlog couldn’t be eliminated quicker.

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What Canada’s biggest business leaders want from CETA
(BNN Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Court asked to enforce settlement on research award equity targets

30 Oct 16
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The Canadian Human Rights Commission is taking the unusual step of asking the Federal Court to enforce a decade-old settlement that created equity targets for a prestigious research award because most universities have consistently failed over the years to give enough chairs to women and diverse candidates.

The Canada Research Chair program, which awards funding for up to 2,000 academics at a time, was required to track how many of its recipients are female, indigenous, visible minority or had a disability after a 2006 settlement through the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The equity targets are meant to ensure that the demographics of the award recipients reflect the demographics of the pool of qualified academics. The most recent figures show more than half of universities across the country do not make their targets, with small institutions generally doing better than large ones. In the aggregate, the 15 largest institutions – which hold the bulk of all research chairs – currently meet the targets of 15 per cent for visible minorities and 1 per cent for aboriginal researchers, but are three points shy each in meeting the targets of 31 per cent for women and 4 per cent for academics with a disability.

The total numbers mask great disparity between schools, with major institutions such as the University of Toronto, McGill University and University of British Columbia scoring well, while many schools with French-speaking requirements – such as the University of Ottawa, Laval University and the University of Montreal – do poorly.

The targets do not deal with systemic barriers that may prevent more diverse candidates from being hired into academia in the first place. According to 2011 census data, 19 per cent of Canadians identified themselves as visible minorities, and 50 per cent are women.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s motion, if successful, would mean the 2006 settlement would have the effect of a court order. Commission spokesman Jeff Meldrum said it is uncommon for the organization to seek this sort of court action and the enforcement powers that come along with it.

Three federal agencies decide how many Canada Research Chairs each university receives, and it is up to the individual universities to nominate candidates for the awards. The federal agencies approve the universities’ picks more than 90 per cent of the time. One award category gives academics $200,000 per year over seven years and can be renewed indefinitely, while another tier gives researchers $100,000 per year over five years and can be renewed only once.

Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who served two five-year terms under Tier 2, says universities should stop receiving chairs to hand out if they do not fulfill the equity hiring obligations.

“Why can you not exercise that power of rejection, which [the program] already has, in such a way that the universities that are persistent violators of the targets either move towards the targets or they keep getting their applications rejected?” he said.

Prof. Attaran is pursuing his own human-rights complaint about the program.

The Liberal government recently made changes to a more elite version of the awards, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs, to spur institutions to nominate more diverse candidates. Of the 28 current holders of the more lucrative chairs, only one is a woman.

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, a former researcher herself, says the government is committed to equality.

“We can all do more to address the barriers women and people from other underrepresented groups face in the sciences,” Ms. Duncan said in a statement.

“Frankly, our country cannot reach its full potential if more than half of its people do not feel welcomed into the lab where their ideas, their talent and their ambition is needed. As a scientist myself, I’ve spent 25 years fighting for more diversity in science and I will continue to do so.”

Wendy Robbins, a professor at the University of New Brunswick and one of the respondents in the original 2006 case, applauded the changes to the top-tier awards and said something needs to be done for the broader program.

The agencies say they have made great progress in making the program more equitable – pointing to an increase in chairs awarded to women from 14 per cent in 2001 to 29 per cent in 2016 – but Prof. Robbins says that is not good enough.

“How much time do they need? I would think a decade would be a pretty reasonable time frame,” she said.

Also on The Globe and Mail



Canadian researchers develop life-saving E. coli water detection kit
(Reuters)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Big Canada concept has some major drawbacks

30 Oct 16
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Big Canada. It’s a bold idea, especially the king-sized version called the Century Initiative – it would expand immigration so the population reaches 100 million by the year 2100.

This week, we should get a better sense of whether Justin Trudeau’s Liberals will embrace it.

Already, the government’s advisory council on economic growth – chaired by Dominic Barton, a proponent of the Century Initiative – has recommended a 50-per-cent increase in immigration, to 450,000 immigrants.

The Liberals won’t go that far, not yet. But on Monday, Immigration Minister John McCallum will table new immigration targets, indicating how far they will go in the short term. And on Tuesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver a mini-budget that will respond to some of the recommendations from Mr. Barton’s council.

Big Canada ideas already have some Liberal backing. Mr. McCallum wants more immigration, even if he’s not ready for Mr. Barton’s numbers. Many Liberals like the idea of opening the door wider, and the contrast with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant populism in the United States.

It is a big nation-building dream, and might shake up the way Canadians think about the future. But the Liberals really want to sell it as an economic growth plan. And as economic policy, its merits are far more murky.

It’s not clear it would raise the standard of living. It is not a dramatic fix for coming demographic challenges. And real-world politics mean Canada’s immigration program won’t ever really be what folks like Mr. Barton envision.

Century Initiative proponents argue that booming immigration has usually meant a booming economy. But University of Ottawa economist Serge Coulombe said that we know booming economies draw immigrants, but it’s not clear immigrants make economies boom. Obviously, more people usually means more overall growth, but what matters is per capita growth – that’s what makes Canadians’ standard of living rise. And Mr. Coulombe said studies have not found a discernible impact on per capita growth. Bringing in immigrants with higher human capital, factors like education that tend to increase productivity, theoretically leads to growth, but that has proven harder in practice, he said.

Immigration does have real benefits. Without it, Canada’s labour force would start shrinking, because of our aging population, and the population would start to shrink within 20 years.

But that doesn’t mean that a major expansion of immigration would solve the challenges of an aging population. Century Initiative literature warns that by 2035 the ratio of workers to retirees “could fall to just 2 to 1 from the current 4 to 1.” But the truth is their immigration plan would barely change those ratios.

The impact of immigration on the aging of the population is just too small to reverse the effect of fewer births and longer lives – unless the numbers are expanded massively. The average age of 36 million Canadians is around 40, but bringing in 450,000 30-year-old immigrants would only reduce the average age by seven weeks.

Mr. Barton, and others, argue Canada could do better by choosing younger immigrants. But the proposals don’t match political reality.

His advisory council called for Canada to increase immigration only from the economic class – rather than those who have family in Canada, or refugees. Canada now accepts about 150,000 economic immigrants each year, and 80,000 family class – spouses, children, parents and grandparents. But 150,000 more economic-class immigrants would eventually want relatives to come, too, and Canadian politicians would have to naturally respond.

Small shifts in demographics do matter. But they have to be weighed against costs – and not just the price of government settlement programs. Most immigrants go to big cities. Vancouver and Toronto residents might worry about the impact population growth will have on heated housing markets, or sprawl, or traffic. That’s true even if Canada remains immune to the kind of anti-immigrant wave Mr. Trump is exploiting.

But Big Canada advocates have another argument: nation-building. Without more immigration, Canada will be a country of 50 or 60 million in 2100, not even in the top 50. Century Initiative co-founder Goldy Hyder, president of Hill and Knowlton Canada, said that means less influence – the country would drop out of the G7 and G20 and be less important to allies and the world.

As a nation-building dream, Big Canada ideas have a lot of power. They remind us we need immigration. But as an economic-growth policy, it’s not a big, simple formula for making Canadians better off.

Also on The Globe and Mail



Trump would be ‘dangerous’ as president: UN human rights chief
(Reuters)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Canada not ready for climate change, report warns

30 Oct 16
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Canada is ill-prepared for the increased flooding and extreme weather that will occur under climate change, and needs to act now or face much higher costs to fix damaged buildings and infrastructure in the future, a new report warns.

The federal government is set to announce major infrastructure programs in its fall update Tuesday, but Ottawa and the provinces have yet to properly assess how to make the country’s transportation, electricity and water systems more resilient to the threat from climate change, the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation says in a report to be released Monday.

The Intact Centre evaluated provincial efforts to mitigate disasters from the flooding that will be caused by extreme weather and rising sea levels. It concludes that, on the whole, Canada is not well-prepared and must take concerted action to reduce the threat that will escalate over time.

“The one factor that is not well understood in Canada is that every day we don’t adapt is a day we don’t have,” said Blair Feltmate, the centre’s head and a professor in the faculty of environment at the university.

“We do not have the luxury of time; we’ve got to move on this file immediately. … We must build adaptation into the system now because if we don’t, the economic consequences and the social disruption it’s going to bring to the country will be very substantial.”

Prof. Feltmate said the cost preparing for natural disasters is relatively modest for new construction, while it is far more expensive to protect existing buildings and infrastructure such as power and water systems and housing subdivisions – though retrofitting may be less costly than paying for damages from extreme weather.

His report card on the provinces and the Yukon comes as federal, provincial and territorial governments work toward a pan-Canadian climate strategy, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scheduling a first ministers meeting for Dec. 9, when he hopes to conclude a deal.

Ottawa also pledged under the Paris climate agreement last December to prepare a national adaptation plan and communicate it to the United Nations with regular updates. This year’s UN climate summit starts next week in Morocco, and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is expected to provide an update on Canada’s progress in implementing the 2015 agreement.

The Prime Minister and premiers agreed in Vancouver last March to work toward an agreement that would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but would co-ordinate increasing efforts to mitigate the impacts of extreme-weather events that are expected to increase in intensity and frequency.

A report from a federal-provincial-territorial working group said climate impacts are already being felt across Canada and “pose significant risks to communities, health and well-being, the economy and the natural environment.” The interim report was completed in June and recently obtained by The Globe and Mail; a final version is due to be released in the coming weeks.

The June report suggests governments are planning to embrace both short-term and long-term “adaptation” measures, including ensuring climate change is considered in infrastructure decisions and investing in projects that are specifically designed to address its impacts. Over the longer term, Canada needs to develop “authoritative, accessible and actionable information” on changing climate conditions, and to generate greater awareness, leadership and investment in adaptation, the working group paper said.

But that high-level commitment can get lost in the day-to-day business of building infrastructure and planning new subdivision or commercial buildings, Prof. Feltmate said.

The insurance industry is particularly concerned about rising costs for flood and other weather-related disasters, including this year’s devastating fire in Fort McMurray, Alta. Payouts have soared and seven of the past eight years have seen insured costs from natural disasters exceeding $1-billion.

Prof. Feltmate’s report surveyed each province and the Yukon on 12 factors related to preparedness to limit flood damage. They included flood-plain mapping and land-use planning; the availability of home adaptation audits and commercial property; and climate-related assessments of transportation, energy, drinking water and sewage systems.

He urged Ottawa and the provinces to each create a position of “chief adaptation officer,” whose mandate would be to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in flood preparedness and produce regular audits of the jurisdiction’s commitments and actions. He also recommended provinces restrict construction on flood plains, and where such building has occurred, take action to limit potential flood damage.

Also on The Globe and Mail



What would a federal carbon tax mean for Canada?
(The Globe and Mail)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Victory for Mail on Sunday campaign as watchdog acts on Vodafone’s Laurel and Hardy worthy customer service fiasco with £4.6m fine 

30 Oct 16
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Vodafone was last week fined £4.6million by communications regulator Ofcom for catastrophically failing customers. 

The record fine is vindication of a one-year investigation by The Mail on Sunday into woeful customer service at the mobile phone giant.

But complaints CONTINUE to surface.


Fiasco: Vodafone’s customer service fiasco has been worthy of a Laurel and Hardy style blunder

Over the past 12 months, hundreds of Vodafone customers have contacted us complaining about the company’s incompetence. 

Many of these cases were passed on to Ofcom as it investigated the company, culminating in the multi-million pound fine.

In issuing its fine, Ofcom said that between January 2014 and November 2015, Vodafone ‘provided its frontline customer service staff with insufficient and ambiguous information’ on when to treat a customer call as a complaint.

Here, we speak to some of the customers who were let down badly by a mobile provider which repeatedly refused to listen. 

We also explain how to put an end to the horror of a simple mobile contract wreaking havoc with your personal life and personal finances.

PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES

When Philip Bailey’s granddaughter lost her mobile phone he asked Vodafone to disconnect it. But the company cut off his mobile instead.

The consequence of this error, besides the considerable time it took to return his phone to working order, was that he faced the worry of being uncontactable by hospital nurses as his wife, Melanie, underwent surgery. She has terminal cancer.

The couple could not afford for him to take time off work, but he wanted to ensure he was only a phone call away should anything go wrong and he needed to rush to her bedside. It was literally a lifeline.

SIX STEPS TO RESOLVING YOUR COMPLAINT


Six steps to resolving your complaint

Whatever company you are at war with, it is important to know what rights you have when a complaint is not taken seriously. 

Here are The Mail on Sunday’s top tips:

1. COMPLAIN first to the company. Do this via email or in a dated letter. Be matter-of-fact about what has gone wrong and clearly state how it should be put right.

2. KEEP a record of all complaints and correspondence, as well as any evidence that backs up your case, such as photographs, bills and account statements.

3. REFER your case to an independent mediator if the company does not reply within eight weeks or says it can do no more to help you. 

There is an Ombudsman for most industry sectors – including financial, property, energy, communications and general consumer issues. 

For mobile phone gripes, turn either to the Communications Ombudsman (0330 4401614; ombudsman-services.org/communications) or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (020 75203827; cedr.com/cisas).

4. FIND guidance about using an Ombudsman and making complaints on the Citizens Advice website (citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer) or call its helpline on 03454 040506.

5. TAKE legal action in the small claims court if an Ombudsman cannot resolve the problem and you need to take matters further. Details on how to do this can be found at gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money.

6. FLAG any inaccuracies or disputes about your payment history on your credit report by adding your own ‘notice of correction’.

Banks judge whether to lend based on what is recorded on your credit file. Visit Experian.co.uk, Equifax.co.uk and Callcredit.co.uk – these are the three credit reference agencies holding the information.

All he wanted from his mobile network was acknowledgement of its error and an apology. ‘They weren’t bothered,’ says Philip.

This is one of the more heartbreaking stories The Mail on Sunday has heard from Vodafone customers and one of the reasons why we forwarded complaints to Ofcom.

Others have told us about the horror of being chased for debts they did not owe.

Their credit records were tarnished, resulting in them missing out on mortgages, loans and the chance to buy their first or next home. 


They wasted countless hours speaking to people in contact centres around the world who repeatedly failed to help them.

We heard from a new mum who was harassed by an overly friendly overseas call centre worker. After her husband complained to Vodafone, the employee accused the young mum of behaving like ‘Queen Elizabeth’.

Customers have shed tears, some have raged while others have suffered stress and anxiety. 

All who contacted us had one thing in common – their voices went unheard by Vodafone. 

They were stuck on a complaints merry-go-round, forced to repeat grievances because employees were unable to resolve errors.

Customers were told that complaints would be ‘escalated’ and rectified. But often they found themselves back at square one.

HOW THE PHONE GIANTS COMPARE

Complaints about mobile phone operators to Ofcom are published every quarter.

While Vodafone has been the most complained about mobile network since the fourth quarter of 2014 – peaking at the end of 2015 – Tesco Mobile has performed consistently well by comparison as the least complained about provider every quarter since the latter half of 2014.

In the latest update, Vodafone racked up 23 complaints per 100,000 accounts, compared to Tesco Mobile’s one per 100,000. 

Providers O2 and Three were next best in the table with two and three complaints respectively.

To see complaints figures covering companies which offer mobile, broadband, pay TV and landline deals visit ofcom.org.uk. For tips on how to switch providers visit citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.

The company also failed to direct unhappy customers to an independent mediator, such as the Communications Ombudsman, which could have intervened on their behalf.

At least one of our readers was told there was no way for him to raise a complaint at all. David Short begged to make an official complaint while chatting to customer agents via Vodafone’s instant web chat. 

He was told there was no email address and to complain further he would need to call Vodafone or visit a nearby store. There was no mention of an Ombudsman. This breaches rules laid down by Ofcom.

A LONG LIST OF PROBLEMS

New mobile numbers were randomly added to accounts, while others were wrongly deleted and cut off. 

Pay-as-you-go credit top-ups were not added, causing more than 10,000 customers to lose £150,000 over the course of 17 months.

Bills were sent out for contracts that customers say they had cancelled within the agreed cooling-off period.

Demands for unpaid bills were made even when a customer was up to date with payments. 


Problem after problem: New mobile numbers were randomly added to accounts, while others were wrongly deleted and cut off

Vodafone recorded them as late payers on credit records, referred to by lenders when customers apply for deals. These false marks on records meant customers were rejected for loans and mortgages.

Lee Jenkinson, 25, is a waiter living in Newcastle. He has been working all hours so he can build a deposit for a first home.

When he started saving he had no credit rating so built it up by using a credit card and repaying the balance on time. 

But this year Vodafone told him he owed money – despite leaving the network two years ago and cancelling his account. 


‘Bullied’: Jennifer Lovell suffered when her credit record was affected

The company has taken around £500 from Lee’s account over 17 months since he thought he had ceased to be a customer and damaged his credit score in the process.

Lee says: ‘The company has destroyed my credit rating, which I had been working to improve so that I could apply for a mortgage and make something of my life. 

This multi-national company seems to think it can just take my money as it pleases.’

Michael Owen, 74, moved away from Vodafone but continued to receive outstanding invoices even though he had paid a ‘final bill’. He was left in ‘stalemate’ with the company.

Jennifer Lovell, who is expecting her first child, has spent the past year complaining to Vodafone about a mobile contract added to her existing account which she made clear she did not want when the deal was offered.

Since then her own mobile phone connection has been cut off and demands for unpaid bills have been referred to a debt collection agency.

Jennifer, 27, from Teignmouth, Devon, says: ‘I have endured huge amounts of stress, worry and sleepless nights. I have had panic attacks when seeing the adverse impact on my credit record. I feel bullied by Vodafone – my complaint has never been taken seriously.’

VODAFONE’S RESPONSE

On Friday, Vodafone said recent investment in customer service had resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in the level of complaints it now receives. 

It added: ‘We accept we were not as effective as we should have been in handling and resolving customers’ issues fairly, consistently and in a timely manner. 

This has been an unhappy episode for all of us at Vodafone: we know we let our customers down. We are determined to put everything right.’

Pay-as-you-go customers who lost money have been refunded an average £14. Also the company has donated £100,000 to UK charities.

BOSSES WHO SHOULD HANG THEIR HEADS IN SHAME

In May 2015, Jeroen Hoencamp, former chief executive of Vodafone UK, said: ‘The next 12 months are all about improving customer experience and strengthening our network.’

He promised to focus on customer experience ‘more than ever before’ on behalf of its 20 million UK customers. 

After hiring more customer service agents, improving their training and investing in the company’s infrastructure, Hoencamp added: ‘This £2 billion investment in our network and customer services over 2014 and 2015 is starting to deliver a step change in customer experience, which we hope our customers are starting to feel.’

The Mail on Sunday has asked many customers how they feel about their experience of Vodafone’s complaints handling in the past year.


Asking questions: The Mail on Sunday has asked many customers how they feel about their experience of Vodafone’s complaints handling in the past year

Richard Holzel sums it up when he says: ‘I would like never to hear the word Vodafone again as my whole experience has been so stressful.’

The 29-year-old MOT inspector and technician says he was ‘continually fobbed off’ when he tried to complain about mistaken charges and a damaged credit rating.

He adds: ‘Its customer service is non-existent. You just get passed from one unhelpful person to another.’


‘Fobbed off’: Customer Richard Holzel

Widowed David Woollcott, 73, is a retired human resources director. He had cause to complain when his phone was blocked from making overseas calls, despite having bought a special roaming package before going abroad.

Despite complaining on his return, the same thing happened on his next trip. Letters to Vodafone went unanswered. 

He says: ‘In my business career, I have worked for US and Canadian telecoms companies and a range of UK companies, all of which provided excellent customer service.

‘In my experience any manager responsible for the level of service provided by Vodafone would have been subject to disciplinary action.’

Since Hoencamp quit Britain to lead the company in the Netherlands, he has been replaced by Nick Jeffery, who became UK boss in September. Jeffery has much work to do.

Not that Vodafone’s executives have felt any fallout from the customer service debacle. 

Vittorio Colao, chief executive, enjoys remuneration of £5.3million. Colao’s statement after revealing the company’s annual results earlier this year said nothing of the service and complaints handling disaster at its UK division. 

He said: ‘Looking forward, we will continue to invest in our customer excellence programmes in both mobile and converged services. I am confident we will sustain our positive momentum in the coming year.’

The customers we have heard from don’t share the same confidence.

Michael Owen adds: ‘I have been with Vodafone for 20-plus years and the bigger it has become the worse the service. 

‘The fine is big. If it had invested that sum in sorting out things in the first place Vodafone would not have ended up with so many disgruntled customers. It’s not rocket science. Until The Mail on Sunday intervened Vodafone was the bane of my life.’






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Peerenboom vs. Perlmutter: Round one is decided

29 Oct 16
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Toronto businessman Harold Peerenboom has won a legal battle to obtain the private e-mails of Isaac Perlmutter, the publicity-shy billionaire chief executive officer of the Marvel Entertainment empire who was last photographed in 1985.

The legal soap opera involves high-priced lawyers and private detectives and could result in a defamation-suit settlement as high as $400-million.

At issue is a dispute over Mr. Perlmutter’s favourite tennis instructor at an exclusive compound in Palm Beach, Fla., where both men spend the winters. Mr. Peerenboom wanted tennis instructor Karen D. Donnelly’s contract to be open to competitive bids.

Soon after, neighbours in the Sloan’s Curve gated community began receiving hate mail letters falsely accusing Mr. Peereboom, who owns the international consulting firm Mandrake, of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at knifepoint and killing a local couple.

Mr. Peerenboom subpoenaed records from New York-based Marvel Entertainment that he believes will show the 73-year-old Mr. Perlmutter had launched the vicious hate-mail campaign, falsely accusing him of murder and child molestation to put pressure on him to leave the community.

New York Supreme Court Justice Nancy Bannon recently ruled that Mr. Perlmutter had waived the right to privacy because he sent e-mails on the Marvel server.

Walt Disney Co., which owns Marvel and its lucrative franchises, such as Iron Man and Captain America, has a computer policy that prohibits personal and other objectional use of Marvel’s server and e-mail system, the judge said in her Sept. 30 ruling.

“Perlmutter was or should have been aware, as Marvel’s chairman or CEO, that Marvel implemented Disney’s use and monitoring policies,” Justice Bannon wrote. “… Perlmutter did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in connection with electronic messages sent and received on Marvel’s server, and has waived the attorney-client and work-product privileges in connection with them.”

The court ruled that Mr. Peerenboom’s legal team, headed by Marc Kasowitz, who also represents Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, can have access to e-mails made by any Marvel employee working for Mr. Perlmutter, including his accountant. The only exception is his wife, Laura, who the judge said would not necessarily be aware of the Disney-Marvel server policy.

“We are gratified by the court’s well-reasoned decision. Mr. Peerenboom looks forward to presenting the evidence in this case to a jury and vindicating his reputation,” Mr. Kasowtiz said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Kasowitz said recent discovery proceedings show that Marvel Entertainment resources were used in “carrying out his [Mr. Perlmutter’s] vicious anonymous hate-mail campaign against Harold Peerenboom.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Perlmutter, who is represented by famed Miami lawyer Roy Black, expressed deep concern about the court judgment.

“While it doesn’t change the fact that there is no evidence to support Mr. Peerenboom’s baseless lawsuit, we believe this decision sets a dangerous precedent and is contrary to law, and we intend to seek further review,” Brandy Bergman said in a statement to The Globe.

“The attorney-client privilege and other privileges addressed in the court’s decision are sacrosanct legal principles that should not be so significantly eroded, especially on behalf of Harold Peerenboom, a serial litigant who was recently found by a Florida court to have illegally collected and tested the Perlmutters’ DNA and lied about it in his testimony.”

The hate-mail campaign, which included more than 1,000 letters, was directed at members of the Palm Beach community where the two men live, inmates at federal and state penitentiaries, and business associates and friends of Mr. Peerenboom in Canada. Some of the letters were reported to be on his stationery. The letters alleged he was a child molester and killer. Other letters stated Mr. Pereenboom believed in Hitler’s Final Solution and wanted to attack Jewish neighbours, including Mr. Perlmutter, an Israeli American.

The Perlmutters deny that they had anything to do with the slanderous letters and argue that Mr. Peerenboom is a serial litigator, seeking to shake them down for millions of dollars.

The litigation includes DNA evidence allegedly collected from one of the hate letters that match DNA on a water bottle that Laura Perlmutter left in court when her husband was deposed on Feb. 27, 2013. Mr. Peerenboom paid a private lab to conduct tests, which allegedly showed a 97.6 per cent possibility that the DNA came from Ms. Perlmutter.

A Florida judge ruled in July that Mr. Peerenboom and his previous lawyer, William Douberly, “acted fraudulently” to obtain the DNA and released the results without the consent of the Perlmutters. The court also found that Mr. Douberly could no longer claim attorney-client privilege and would now face cross-examination by Mr. Perlmutter’s lawyers in the litigation still before the courts. He must answer 16 questions related to the DNA collection, something he refused to do when he claimed attorney-client privilege.

Mr. Perlmutter’s legal team alleges in the lawsuit that Mr. Peerenboom attempted to carry out an “international conspiracy to surreptitiously and illegally collect, analyze and disclose the Perlmutters’ genetic information in violation of Florida statutory and common law, in an effort to defame the Perlmutters by falsely implicating them in criminal conduct.”

Also on The Globe and Mail



Benedict Cumberbatch on adding ‘Doctor Strange’ to the ‘Avengers’ franchise
(AP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Canadian veterans say anti-malaria drug prescribed in Somalia ruined lives

28 Oct 16
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Veterans who took part in the Somalia mission of the 1990s, which ended after the murder of a local teenager, blame the anti-malarial drug mefloquine for psychological damage that may have caused the tragedy and say Ottawa should reach out to others who have been affected.

A House of Commons committee heard from veterans on Thursday who say their lives have been permanently altered, and in some cases destroyed, by the pills they were required to take as part of a clinical trial involving members of the Canadian Forces who were deployed on the Somalia mission.

All of the men urged the government to create an outreach program that would educate both current and former military personnel, as well as civilian consumers, about the drug’s potential side effects.

Claude Lalancette was one of paratroopers with the Canadian Airborne Regiment who was sent to Somalia.

“This is where I can retrace the route of my mental-health issues,” Mr. Lalancette told the MPs on the committee. “We were young and so well-trained for this mission. But the intensity of our aggression and psychoses led to the closure of Canada’s elite – the Canadian Airborne Regiment.”

The regiment was disbanded in 1995 after what was known as the Somalia Affair. Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali.

“Clayton Matchee and Kyle Brown, they are victims,” said Mr. Lalancette, who blamed mefloquine for their actions. Mr. Brown was convicted of manslaughter in the teenager’s death and served a third of his five-year sentence. Mr. Matchee suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself and was found unfit to stand trial.

Mefloquine is also sold under the brand name Lariam. A spokeswoman for the Department of National Defence has said it was given to 15,677 Canadian soldiers between 2001 and 2012.

Mr. Lalancette said his own symptoms include depression, irritability, hyper-vigilance, sleep disorders and aggression. “My temper goes from zero to 1,000 in an instant,” he told the committee.

He said he has given up driving because he cannot control his road rage. The drug, he added, has cost him his relationship with his children, his military job, pushed him into a life of poverty and prompted him to contemplate suicide.

All of the men talked about being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which they say has similar symptoms of mefloquine toxicity.

But the treatments for PTSD do not work for those whose brains have been damaged by the drug, said John Dowe, who was also in Somalia and now works with the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance.

“In the absence of national action to identify and alarm soldiers and consumers of the latest knowledge about mefloquine,” Mr. Dowe said, “we are left to remember psychosis, murder, violence and suicide.”

In 1999, the federal Auditor-General said the drug had been improperly prescribed during the Somalia mission. “National Defence did not keep essential records or follow required procedures required to fulfill its obligations as a participant in clinical study,” that report said.

Different drugs that have fewer side effects than mefloquine are now more commonly prescribed to soldiers. But Canadian troops are still given mefloquine far more often that it is prescribed for troops in the United States.

The British military allows it only as a last resort after a report earlier this year cited the risk of severe psychological side effects.

Dave Bona of Saskatchewan, a former member of the Canadian Airborne, said he took the drug during the Somalia mission and again in Rwanda a couple years later, and the psychological effects have been profound.

Mr. Bona told the committee that he has tried to track down the 28 men who deployed in his platoon to Somalia and has been able to account for 10 of them. “Two have committed suicide, six have attempted it and there’s only one soldier that is actually doing well,” Mr. Bona said, “and that’s the one guy that I know did not take the drug.”

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U.S. pitches F-35 jet to Ottawa as Liberals aim to replace fleet

28 Oct 16
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The U.S. Air Force made a last-minute pitch to the federal government in favour of the Lockheed-Martin F-35, hoping to reassure officials about the long-term viability of the stealth fighter jet that the Liberals promised not to buy in the past election, sources said.

A top American officer who leads the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, based in Virginia, travelled to Ottawa on Oct. 14 to meet with Canadian officials who are working on the purchase of Canada’s next fleet of fighter jets. Lieutenant-General Christopher Bogdan discussed the ongoing development of the state-of-the-art fighter jet, which has clients around the world but is still facing a series of technological problems, officials said.

The visit from Lt.-Gen. Bogdan came at a crucial time, as a small team of Liberal ministers are set to choose one of three options to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s: launch a full and open competition; buy a small number of fighter jets for an interim fleet; or purchase an entire fleet of jets through a sole-sourced acquisition.

Defence-industry officials expect the cabinet committee on defence procurement to meet on this matter next week. Federal officials declined to comment on the timing of the coming meeting, but said the government does not plan to let the complex file drag on.

There are widespread concerns in the Liberal government about the short-term risks associated with the acquisition of the F-35, which is still in development.

In September, 15 F-35s were grounded over the discovery of faulty insulation in avionics cooling lines in the aircraft’s wings, an issue that should be be fixed by the end of the year.

On a broader level, some Canadian officials were preoccupied by a recent report that raised a number of questions about the ability of the F-35 to achieve its promised capabilities.

Leaked to Bloomberg News over the summer, the report from the U.S. government’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation warned that the F-35 program was “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” full capabilities by the scheduled end of its development in 2018.

Lt.-Gen. Bogdan was in Ottawa earlier this month specifically to discuss the Canadian government’s plans to buy new fighter jets.

“The general provided an update on the status of the program and answered questions to help ensure officials had as complete information as possible on the F-35 program, as the Government of Canada considers all of its options to replace their legacy CF-18 fighter fleet,” said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for Lt.-Gen. Bogdan.

Mr. DellaVedova would not give details of what was discussed at the meeting, but provided a statement by Lt.-Gen. Bogdan to dissipate concerns over the report from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

“All of the issues mentioned are well-known to the F-35 Joint Program Office, the U.S. services, international partners and our industry team. … While nearing completion, the F-35 is still in development and technical challenges are to be expected. The program has a proven track record of solving technical issues and we’re confident we’ll continue to do so,” Lt.-Gen. Bogdan said.

There was no similar visit to Ottawa by American officials in charge of the Boeing Super Hornet, which is seen as the main rival to the F-35 in the race to replace Canada’s CF-18s.

Defence-industry sources said the U.S. Air Force is more supportive of the F-35 than the Super Hornet, which is operated by the U.S. Navy. Still, the Super Hornet program has had the opportunity to provide detailed information on its aircraft to Canadian officials, sources said.

During the past federal election, the Liberal Party said: “We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber.” The Liberals promised an “open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft,” leading to the “purchase [of] one of the many, lower-priced options that better match Canada’s defence needs.”

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Private political fundraising questioned on both sides of the border

28 Oct 16
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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay () and Rob Gilroy ()

The Globe Politics is pleased to include a roundup of news and opinion on U.S. politics, through until this year’s election in November. As always, what you think of the newsletter. to get it by e-mail each morning.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA

> The lobbying commissioner is the Liberals’ “cash for access” fundraisers, in which participants at small, private events pay up to $1,500 for access to a cabinet minister.

> A top American military official came to Ottawa to pitch the Liberals on the .

> Veterans who had been deployed in Somalia in the 1990s say their lives were negatively affected by having to take the antimalarial drug .

> A key organizer for Maxime Bernier’s leadership bid has to rival Andrew Scheer.

> And a Conservative MP says human-rights protections for Canadians aren’t necessary because they aren’t a large group, to which Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould replied: “Human rights are human rights and we need to ensure, whether it’s a small group of people or a large group of people, that we need to provide the necessary protection for those individuals.”

U.S. ELECTION 2016

> Curb your enthusiasm, America: In today’s , Sarah Kendzior takes on the so-called ‘enthusiasm gap’ of U.S. voters toward Hillary Clinton. “If this election has taught us anything, it is that enthusiasm for a political figure can be dangerous. It is a pathway to demagoguery, and the absence of enthusiasm is often a sign that the democratic process is working … As citizens, we are not meant to be cheerleaders for presidents; they are meant to serve us. Blind loyalty, in the end, is merely blindness.”

> Cracks in the foundation: It may not be the big October surprise that WikiLeaks promised, but recent e-mails hacked and dumped by the organization show that potential conflicts between Hillary Clinton’s work at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation are going to follow her into the Oval Office if she is elected on Nov. 8. The “it’s often hard to disentangle its philanthropic work from its fundraising activities, Bill’s work on its behalf from Hillary’s political ambitions, and some of its shadier figures from its noble ambitions.”

> GOP’s woman problem: S.E. Cupp in The New York Times on the lonely life of being a woman in the Republican party, particularly after Newt Gingrich’s recent on-air tiff with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “That Mr. Gingrich (with whom I once hosted a television show) thought the best way to deflect attention from Mr. Trump’s awful behavior with women was to attack another woman tells you so much about the depths to which Mr. Trump has dragged the Republican Party.”

> Democrats and demographics: Also in The Times, Thomas Edsall says the election is likely to show the Democrats winning a majority of upscale white voters for the first time in 60 years. And it’s a trend, , that will continue. “The 2016 election will represent a complete inversion of the New Deal order among white voters. From the 1930s into the 1980s and early 1990s, majorities of downscale whites voted Democratic and upscale whites voted Republican. Now … the opposite is true.”

> Wither the rule of law?: Linda Greenhouse about the importance of the rule of law, and how this corrosive election threatens to undermine it. “The rule of law isn’t readily reduced to a definition; we know it when we see it. … it undergirds the resilience necessary to absorb the inevitable shocks any political system faces. Resilience takes a long time to grow. … In the United States, we have thought, smugly, that we have all the time in the world. Maybe we don’t.”

> Team ‘deplorable’: The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson Donald Trump’s election surrogates are clearly the true ‘deplorables’ of this election campaign. “If Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were one of his beauty pageants, instead of a ‘Miss Congeniality’ consolation prize there would have to be a ‘Mr. or Ms. Deplorable.’ According to my score card, the winner is Rudy Giuliani.”

> The cleansing of conservatism: David Brooks of The New York Times is at the way conservatism was hijacked and twisted by today’s Republican Party. But, he’s optimistic for the future of the movement. “That’s because of an observation the writer Yuval Levin once made: That while most of the crazy progressives are young, most of the crazy conservatives are old. Conservatism is now being led astray by its seniors, but its young people are pretty great.”

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

: “The 18th-century economist Adam Smith, and the 19th-century Anti-Corn-Law League – to permit imported grain – wanted free trade so that people could eat and live better, not to quarrel about arbitration or specialized commercial courts. Those old priorities should be the same as ever.”

: “There are two fundamental views on playing host to international sporting competitions such as the Olympics: It’s a colossal waste of money that has the potential to burden generations with massive debt or a great opportunity for a city to generate civic pride and stimulate the local economy. There are currently three such events being considered for Canada, all of which would happen in the same year: 2026. And given that each would rely heavily on an infusion of dollars from Ottawa, the Trudeau Liberals are hoping they don’t have to play favourites and choose one over the others.”

: “This week, the Conservatives beat the Liberals at compassion and caring, no easy task for a gang of supposedly heartless Harper leftovers. Lead by unrelentingly combative Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, the Official Opposition browbeat the Liberals into doing something about providing refuge to a small persecuted and pacifist culture of Yazidi girls.”

: “Let’s be clear here: here was a triumph of the party line, handed down by Prime Minister’s Office and obeyed in these days by nearly 100 per cent of MPs nearly 100 per cent of the time, over the right of senators to think independently. And that’s the way it should be. Prime ministers and their caucuses are elected and can be unelected. Even when they’re annoying they should win these confrontations.”


Courtesy: The Globe And Mail